- New Jersey
Only a short eight miles from the dazzling lights of New York, the cultural kaleidoscope of Newark, New Jersey, beckoned me in with open arms.
I didn’t waste any time before setting out to explore this historical city that dates back to the 1600s. With every turn, I would stumble across something new, exciting and filled with charm.
Nature’s Beauty at Branch Brook Park
Once “spring has sprung” on the East Coast, Newark proudly wears mother nature’s crown with what is said to be the largest collection of cherry trees in the country, with 5,300 trees. I was incredibly lucky to take a stroll through Branch Brook Park and marvel at these delicate flowers to the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky.
In addition to the cherry trees, the park is brimming with fun activities. I discovered, to name a few, an urban farm, skating rink, children’s garden, tennis courts, basketball courts and a fitness course! I could have literally spent the whole day here amongst the cherry trees, but I knew I had only touched the surface of Newark’s delights.
Retail Therapy at The Mills at Jersey Gardens
I always try to fight my urge to shop and over indulge while on holiday, but I have come to realize it’s futile, so I spent some time exploring The Mills at Jersey Gardens. With more than 200 name brand stores in one spot, and a tax exemption on clothes and shoes, you can be sure I left with my hands full and a smile on my face.
Browsing the floors of The Mills at Jersey Gardens
Newark’s Thriving Cultural Scene
Downtown Newark is home to more than a few indie art galleries. Don’t be fooled by what appears at first as a modest exterior; take one step inside and be prepared for a sensory overload! Gallery Aferro offers just this, with its maze of studio spaces, exhibitions and installation art. I met artists, curators and fellow art lovers who mingle, share ideas and support the scene by investing in local talent.
Another centre for the arts is world-renowned Jazz radio station WBGO, which features artists from around the globe. I was invited in for a tour of the station, a meet and greet with one of their iconic hosts, and a live broadcast from some of America’s finest Jazz musicians.
A visit to Newark must also include a trip to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. A back-to-back calendar of events includes performances covering almost every genre of the arts, from dance and theatre to poetry and music.
As a history buff, I was also excited to explore the Newark Museum. I marvelled at the collections of American, Asian and African, decorative and contemporary art. My favourite was the Tibetan galleries, which are considered among the best in the world.
Gallery Aferro in Newark, New Jersey
Exhilarating Events at Prudential Center
My time in Newark fell during ice hockey season, so it was only right that I went along to support the NHL New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. The roaring fans can literally be heard from outside this impressive stadium, and inside, the atmosphere is electric. Throughout the year, sports enthusiasts will have plenty of action either on the ice or on the court. Prudential Center is also home to Seton Hall NCAA Men’s Basketball and regularly hosts UFC, WWE, boxing and skateboarding championships. For the music lovers, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to legendary performers who come from far and wide to raise the roof.
Newark is more than just a city; it’s a city happening!
New Jersey Devils Game, The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey